Dogs don’t sweat as people do. They cool their bodies by panting. Over-exercising a dog on a hot day can bring on heat stroke (Hyperthermia), as can confining the dog to a small, poorly ventilated area. Pets on medication, overweight dogs, older pets, and breeds with pug noses are more likely to be bothered by heat.
One way to check your pet’s tolerance to the temperature is by looking at the colour of its gums. They should be a light pink colour. Press your finger gently in one spot and release. Watch how fast the pink colour returns. A dog with heat stroke will have dark reddish gums and there will be a delay in the time colour returns to the spot you’ve pressed.
More obvious signs of heat stroke include rapid, shallow panting, rapid heart rate, and high temperature. The normal dog’s rectal temperature is 101 to 102 degrees F. If your dog’s temperature is higher than 104 F, it should be cooled immediately. Douse the animal with plenty of cool (but not icy) water, or wrap it in cool, wet towels. Offer it a cool drink and get it to a veterinarian. Cooling measures should be stopped once the dog’s temperature has lowered to 103.
Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, convulsions, or a lapse of consciousness are severe signs and require immediate action. Heat stroke can cause permanent damage to the animal’s heart, brain and kidneys.
If your dog is showing any signs of heatstroke, or if you need further information, please contact your vet immediately.